Heading to nationals
A list of Colorado track and field athletes who have qualified for the NCAA Championships:
John Dressel: 5,000 meters
Joe Klecker: 5,000 meters
Zach Perrin: 5,000 meters
Ben Saarel: 1,500 meters
Madison Boreman: 3,000-meter steeplechase
Erin Clark: 5,000 meters & 10,000 meters
Sage Hurta: 3,000-meter steeplechase
Dani Jones: 1,500 meters
Makena Morley: 10,000 meters
An amazing year for Dani Jones got even better on Saturday.
The Colorado sophomore punched her ticket to the NCAA track and field championships with a second-place finish in the women’s 1,500 meters at the NCAA West prelims at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Jones finished her quarterfinal race in 4 minutes, 18.55 seconds, posting the second-fastest time of the day (Nikki Hiltz of Arkansas finished in 4:18.39) and earning an automatic qualifying berth to the nationals, which will be held June 7-10 in Eugene, Ore.
Jones was one of six Buffs to qualify for nationals on Saturday, joining Ben Saarel (men’s 1,500 meters), Erin Clark (women’s 5,000 meters) and three from the men’s 5,000 meters: John Dressel, Joe Klecker and Zach Perrin.
Earlier this spring, Jones won the national title in the women’s indoor 3,000 meters. She also helped the Buffs win the national title in the distance medley relay at the indoor championships.
Jones will now have an opportunity to compete for a title in the outdoor 1,500 meters. A year ago, Jones was ninth nationally in the 1,500 meters, earning second-team All-America honors.
Like Jones, Saarel posted the second-best time of the day in the 1,500 meters. He finished in 3 minutes, 47.83 seconds, just .45 of a second behind Joshua Thompson of Oklahoma State.
Saarel, a junior, will make this third appearance at the NCAA championships. He raced in the 1,500 meters at nationals in 2014 and 2015 (he redshirted last year), finishing in the top 20 both times.
Clark posted the 11th-best qualifying time in the women’s 5,000 meters, crossing the finish line in 16:43.97. She placed fourth in her heat to earn an automatic qualifying spot.
A junior, Clark also qualified for nationals in the 10,000 meters on Thursday. This will be Clark’s third appearance at nationals after competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2015 and 2016.
In the men’s 5,000 meters, Klecker and Dressel finished third and fourth, respectively, in their heat to earn automatic qualifying spots.
Dressel, who crossed the finish line in 14:15.23, missed out on nationals by one spot in the 5,000 meters a year ago. Klecker, who edged Dressel for third in a time of a 14:14.75, will be heading to nationals for the first time.
In the second heat of the men’s 5,000 meters, Perrin finished second to earn an automatic qualifying time. He had a strong kick at the end to finish in 14:33.84 and earn his first trip to nationals.
Jaron Thomas just missed out on qualifying for nationals in the 110-meter hurdles. In Saturday’s quarterfinals, he clocked in at 14.04 seconds, placing 15th – three spots away from moving on to nationals. During this meet, Thomas also reached the quarterfinals in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing 20th overall.
Makena Morley finished 16th in the women’s 5,000 meters on Saturday, less than four seconds away from qualifying for nationals.
On Thursday, Clark and Morley qualified for nationals in the women’s 10,000 meters, and on Friday, Madison Boreman and Sage Hurta qualified in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.